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Legal Status and Legal Effects of the Commission’s State Aid Guidelines: journal article

The Case of the Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy (EEAG) (2014-2020)

Catherine Banet

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 19 (2020), Issue 2, Page 172 - 184

Looking at the practical case of the Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy (EEAG) (2014-2020) and implementation of them, this article intends to re-open the debate on the legal status of soft law instruments in EU State aid policy. It analyses the recent case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the manner the latter distinguishes between the legal force and the legal effects of the State aid guidelines, not only on the Commission, but also on third parties like Member States. The article puts in perspective the careful approach of the Court in not recognising the possible indirect effects of the guidelines on Member States or individuals with the procedural and structural changes in the adoption of the guidelines. With the implementation of the State Aid Modernisation, a circular process in three steps has been established between the adoption of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER), the new State aid guidelines and the proposals for new secondary legislation. In this process, the guidelines assume the function of a bridge, building on the binding principles enshrined in the GBER and preparing the revision of sectoral EU directives and regulations. With the upcoming revision of the GBER and the EEAG which is now scheduled for adoption in 2021, the same dynamic will most probably apply. The revision of the GBER and the EEAG will need to reflect the content of the newly adopted Clean Energy Package for All Europeans, but will also play a crucial role in preparing the grounds for amending relevant secondary legislation in line with the Commission’s European Green Deal Strategy. Keywords: EEAG 2014-2020, renewable energy, support schemes, GBER, legal force, legal effects


State Resources Doctrine Rebooted · Case C‑405/16 P Federal Republic of Germany v European Commission (EEG) · Annotation by Theodoros Iliopoulos journal article

Annotation on the Judgment of the Court of Justice (Third Chamber) of 28 March 2019 in Case C‑405/16 P Federal Republic of Germany v European Commission (EEG).

Theodoros G. Iliopoulos

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 18 (2019), Issue 4, Page 555 - 560

The judgment in the Case C-405/16 P has culminated the struggle between Germany and the Commission over the German law for the promotion of electricity from renewable energy sources. Germany has argued that the legislation at issue followed the PreussenElektra model and does not constitute State aid, while the Commission and the General Court have adopted the opposite stance. In March 2019, the Court of Justice judgment in appeal held that there was no State aid involved and set aside the General Court judgment. Thus, a restrictive interpretation of the obfuscated ‘State resources’ criterion was reinstated, which takes State aid law theory back to its roots and makes the PreussenElektra doctrine actual again. The judgment can to a large extent shape how State aid law will apply in the next years and determine the possibility of Member States to circumvent the State aid law restrictions when enacting measures for the promotion of renewable energy sources, but also for other policy objectives. Keywords: State resources criterion; Support schemes for renewable energy sources; Feed-in and premium tariffs; EEG 2012.

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